The enactment of "Promoting Letters and Printing Culture Act" and commemorative events


In Japan, during the last fifteen years or so there have been nationwide movements for promoting reading for children and providing a better reading environment for them. As reported before (see 2002-KN001), in 1997 the School Library Law was amended for this purpose and in 1999, both Houses of the Diet resolved that the Year 2000 would be the National Year of Reading for Children. This awoke public concern for promoting children's reading. In 2000, the National Year of Reading for Children, the International Library of Children's Literature (ILCL) was opened and in 2001 Law on the Promotion of Reading Activities for Children became law.

In addition to these movements, the Promoting Letters and Printing Culture Act came into effect in July 2005, which defined the basic concept of Promoting Letters and Printing Culture and the responsibilities of the national and local governments for this. By the act, October 27, the first day of Book Reading Week, was designated as Letters and Printing Culture Day. Book Reading Week in Japan is a reading promotion movement by the Council for the Promotion of Book Reading, organized by seven organizations related to publishers, libraries, book distributors and bookstores. It started in 1947, two years after the end of WWII, and has continued for nearly 60 years. In Book Reading Week 2005, various events were held to celebrate Letters and Printing Culture Day and to awaken the public concern for Letters and Printing Culture.

On the first Letters and Printing Culture Day, October 27, 2005, the Agency for Cultural Affairs held a symposium, where following the key-note speech by Hayao Kawai, the Commissioner for Cultural Affairs, the people who got involved in the movement against aliteracy, reported the present situation of children's reading and the problems to be solved.

At the Tokyo Metropolitan Library a "Letters and Printing Culture Forum" was held, where Hiroshi Osada, a poet, lectured on the meaning of words and reading in the present society. The people who are involved in the children's reading movement in school libraries and in their neighborhoods also reported their activities.

On December 2, 2005, a forum co-sponsored by school libraries and publishers and titled "School Libraries Change Education - for making the Promoting Letters and Printing Culture Act effective" was held, where the active measures for making the Act effective were proposed, the activities in schools were reported and the problems were discussed.

In addition, in many public libraries all over Japan, various lecture meetings were held on subjects related to reading, books, or publishing, as well as exhibitions on recommended books.


(2006.7.31 update)